Civet Cat in China


From antiquity, the scent glands or secretions of certain animals have been highly valued for use in perfumes. During the Sung Dynasty (l0th-13th Centuries) Chinese merchants exchanged silk, brocades and weapons for civet from Africa; musk from the Far East was priced much higher than gold.

It is interesting to note that Li Shi-Zhen’s (Ming Dynasty, 1519-1593) famous literature on Chinese medicine (Compendium of Materia Medica) said that although the civet had an unpleasant odour, it possessed a medical effect similar to musk. So for a long time, the secretion from Chinese civet has been used in perfumery and Chinese traditional pharmaceuticals.

The civet cat belongs to viverridae animal species, civetticitis civetta mainly living in Africa and viverra zibetha in Asia. In China, the main variety of civet cat is viverricula indica Desmarest which is widely distributed in the eastern and southern part of China.

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